She announced that her stomach hurt and she was too sick to go to school about ten minutes before the bus pulled up in front of my house.
“Announced” perhaps isn’t the right word. It was more like “groaned” or “moaned” or “whispered in agony.” Something like that. And there were tears and clutching the hands to the stomach and doubling over in pain. That kind of thing.
I’ve always been paralyzed by decisions under pressure. I’d be an utter failure on Jeopardy (besides not knowing anything about pop culture or sports) because whatever I do know flies out of my head the moment someone clicks on a timer.
In college, I studied all week before the test, but tucked my books and notes away the night before the exam. The stress of cramming made my brain shut down.
And procrastinating makes me hyperventilate.
When you have a problem like mine, the utter inability to think under pressure, sometimes you say silly things just because you need to say something. Sports are dangerous for me, too, because I can’t be trusted to react well when a hard object comes hurling at my face.
So, if my daughter had decided she was sick an hour before the bus arrival, I might have been wise and calm, but with ten minutes to go, I was a frantic mess of paralyzed mom-ness.
I grabbed the thermometer to gather objective evidence. When I announced that no fever meant going to school, though, she collapsed onto the sofa underneath her blanket with a bowl held up under her nose.
What if I let her stay home and she wasn’t really sick and she used up an absence for no reason at all and then she thought it was okay to skip school any day her stomach felt a little bit ache-y?
She was going to school.
But what if I sent her to school and she really was feeling bad so she threw up in the middle of the classroom and someone had to clean it all up and she infected other students and it was all super embarrassing?
She was not going to school.
Finally, I made my decision: I would keep her home for two hours and if she wasn’t really sick, she’d go to school.
Suddenly I felt so much better because I had two hours to consider the matter, weigh the evidence, and make another choice. And at just after 11:00, I walked her into the school building with her backpack on and sent her off to her class.
Maybe it’s the fear of making a wrong decision that troubles me so. Or perhaps it’s that I like to weigh the evidence, all the evidence and how do you know when you have all the facts?
It may be paralyzing at times, but perhaps there’s at least one good thing about this need to pause and think after all.
I wonder, as I read the book of Joshua, what would have happened if the nation of Israel had stopped for a single moment to consider the choice set before them, instead of rushing in all bold and blustery to a decision while ultimately remaining deep-down uncommitted.
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
Absolutely we want to serve the Lord! We know what He’s done for us and we’re going to serve Him!
They didn’t consider, though, that the commitments we make in life aren’t just one time choices. They are the guides we use for the daily choices and the moment-by-moment decisions that require self-denial and self-discipline.
The choice to spend time with God despite busyness and distractions–that’s daily.
The choice to deny self and serve—that’s every day any time of the day.
The choice to submit to God and the leading of the Holy Spirit—that’s every second.
In the end, for all their shouting about how they would serve the Lord, the Israelites chose day after day to disobey Him and to pursue their own agendas, to worship false gods and break all the commandments He had given for their protection and purity.
Today, let us pause, taking the time for just this moment, first to listen.
What, God, are you asking of me?
And then before we rush into commitments and assurances, we consider the cost, we determine in our hearts, and then—only then—we make the choice.
But it doesn’t stop there. The day after that and the next day and the next, we choose Him, choose to follow, choose to obey. Sometimes we mess up, but we thank Him for fresh mercies and try again with choice after choice, showing that yes, we will serve the Lord.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King